How many cookbooks do you have? Oh my goodness there are ……! Is that too many?or not enough? I comfort myself with Nigella's admission that she has in excess of 4,000 - I'm not nearly at that number, although I must confess to rather more than most...
I can truthfully say that I have cooked from all of them (as butter-stained pages will certify), and all have passed my test…it might seem unthinkable but there actually are books out there with recipes that don't work, and never will (a book from two famous London chefs comes to mind - dozens of eggs and kilos of French butter later I conceded defeat).
So, in no particular order, I offer you the following list for armchair reading...
How to be a Domestic Goddess - by Nigella Lawson
This is one of the most used books on my shelf - I have lost count of the number of recipes here that are my baking staples, and I love Nigella's writing...
Wholefood Baking - by Jude Blereau
Another well-used and splattered reference - this is my go-to if I want to incorporate wholefood principles and ingredients in my baking - the recipe for Better Buttercream is the best ever;
Philippa Grogan and Richard Cornish's Home Baking
This recently released gem has not yet had time to become butter-stained, but I know that's going to happen…following on from the phenomenal success of her baking business, Phillipa brings recipes back to a domestic scale and shares her secrets and advice, whilst generously revealing the sources of these recipes, often family and friends;
Sweet - Dan Lepard
Our very own Aussie baker showing the world how its done - he began baking in Australia and now calls England home, where he is also the baking guru of the prestigious Guardian newspaper. You may know him as the gentle and kind co-host on Australia's Bake-Off series, which aired last year...
A Passion for Baking - Jo Wheatley
Whilst we're on the subject of the Bake-Offs, this is the first book from the winner of the British series. Tried and tested on her family of three boys, these are accessible recipes that can be made without complicated equipment or ingredients; all will be very well received!
Sweet Tooth - Lily Vanilli (Lily Jones)
At the moment I only have this as an e-book, so I'm trying to figure out how to safely use my i-pad in the kitchen as I cook my way through these inspiring recipes. Operating from a bakery in London's East End adjacent to the Flower Market, Lily Jones underpins great creativity with sound science to ensure that her readers not only have great success, but also understand the process behind successful baking;
The Primrose Bakery Book - Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas is the next part of the success story that is the bakery in London's Primrose Hill. Dismayed at the artificial nature of many cakes on the market, these two enterprising Mums started baking cakes to give to their own children, opened a small bakery, and the rest is history…their recipes are simple, easy to prepare and beautiful to look at and eat;
Ottolenghi - The Cookbook
As anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing one of the Ottolenghi cafes in person will attest, this is some of the most generous beautiful food around…this gorgeous book showcases this visual splendour alongside clear and mouth-watering recipes. Whilst baking is just one chapter of the book, I recommend it for all the wisdom it contains...
Stephanie Alexanders Cook Companion App - this is an electronic version of the book on almost everyone's shelf - brilliant to have on hand if you're away from home but need inspiration on so many levels - Mietzi's Plum Cake is one of my all-time favourites…and the brilliant design of the app has made a visually beautiful job of hundreds of pages of print…
How to Bake - Paul Hollywood
Mr Hollywood shot to fame as the baking host of Great British Bake-Off, alongside the one and only Mary Berry (see below), and unlike many tv hosts, actually trained as a baker in his father's business before going on to open his own outlet and feature in celebrity gossip pages (notwithstanding his recent mishaps, these are rock solid, achievable recipes that anyone can reproduce…)
The Baking Bible - Mary Berry
No shenanigans here - Mary Berry has been the Queen of British cooking and baking in a remarkable career spanning 40 years; much like our own Margaret Fulton. This book contains many of her favourite tried and true recipes, I particular like her tray bake section - great for lunchboxes and bring a plate occasions...
Please click on the slideshow below to see the covers of all of these books, and just think - if you buy your Mum one of these you can hope she'll bake something for you, or if that strategy fails, you can borrow the book - either way - you win!